A New Direction

Prose is a passion project of mine that got the rug pulled out from under it before it was even released. That was back in 2014. Now it’s 2017 and I want to document what I’ve been working on.

A Quick Recap

I initially began writing Prose as a way to teach myself Objective-C and by the time of it’s release I had succeeded at that. After the announcement that App.net was shutting down its demise was slow, so slow I convinced myself that I would be able to refine Prose and release the next version while App.net was still functioning. I began re-writing everything and, like the first version, this next version became a way to teach myself Swift.

Before relocating to Nürnberg in the summer of 2016, progress had slowed as I prepared to begin a new job. I heard @33MHz was working on pnut.io, his take on a timeline based social network, but I didn’t look into it immediately.

Some time later, bored on a bus back from Munich, I decided to experiment with pnut.io’s API. In an extremely roundabout way I launched Coda on my iPad, opened a connection to my VPN in London, and created my first post. That weekend I created a new Xcode project and started building Prose from scratch with support for pnut.io.

Current Progress

After releasing Prose I outlined some goals describing the direction I wanted to take the next version. I’m happy to say that I’ve implemented many of them in Swift:

  • Archivable data model built with Swift value types to replace ADNKit.
  • A networking layer built on URLSession instead of AFNetworking/Alamofire.
  • A more user friendly interface for switching between streams.
  • Multiple accounts.
  • Basic support for dynamic font sizes.

I have many things left to implement but I’ve made significant progress towards a usable beta release.

Despite years of learning, rewriting, and refactoring I’m keen to release something once more. You can follow @prose for the official announcements or my personal account @shawn for a more informal look at ongoing developments.

Actively Developed

If you didn’t know, iOS development is not my full time occupation. I’m a dancer in a professional ballet company and unfortunately this time of year is busier I had anticipated.

Yes, everyone has responsibilities. I understand that and would like to be clear and upfront about the development of Prose. The next version is coming.

What’s In The Pipeline?

Many things are being developed. Here are a few:

  • Re-written data and networking layers. ADNKit uses an outdated version of AFNetworking, to keep up with iOS 7 and 8’s new networking APIs, ADNKit is not being used.
  • A new interface. In the current version, horizontal swipes can trigger many things. This is confusing and will be addressed by a new, more modular, interface.
  • Inline images in posts.
  • Themes.
  • Share extension.

It’s a rewrite of nearly everything.

I may have bitten off more than I can chew given the amount of time I have for development. However, I’ve made progress on all of these fronts and am now working on combining everything together into an app I can be proud of.

I apologize for taking so long. If you’re a iPhone 6/6+ owner I must apologize again. Scaled apps look terrible and Prose is no exception.

Thank you for your kind words, bug reports, and patronage. The next iteration is coming.

Why now?

Since the App.net State of the Union announcement there have been many discussions about App.net, its success, and its ability to continue running. Regardless of those discussions and the fact that App.net remains a functioning service, I believe it is no longer an economically viable platform to build apps on.

So why would I continue to create a client application for a service that might disappear before it’s approved by Apple?

There are two important facts that allowed Prose to be finished: I have a stable “day job” and Prose is my first app. I started learning Objective-C at around this time last year and not until I was actually writing Prose did I really learn it1. Prose is a passion project and regardless of sales, I have already profited from it: I know Objective-C, I know how to make an iOS app, and I am confident that my current knowledge will help me adapt as a developer (switching to Swift, for example).

What Comes Next

Just because I have shipped an app doesn’t mean I’m done with it. I wanted to make an iOS app and supporting it, fixing bugs, and shipping updates are all a part of that.

I wish I could promise to actively develop Prose forever but I don’t know App.net’s future and I won’t lie to customers. I’ll be using App.net until the API ceases to respond and I want to use Prose until that time comes.

What I can confidently say is that, as of now, I will continue to actively develop Prose. I have more features planned and I will fix bugs for as long as I can. If a time comes where I need to re-evaluate that statement I will let you know.

Follow @prose or subscribe to the Broadcast channel to get notified of updates. For a more personal touch follow me, @shawnthroop.

  1. Don’t let this scare you. As my knowledge of Objective-C grew I rewrote the main timeline 14 times and the whole app 3 times before it was released.